What is “The Dome”?
Featuring enhanced visual realism and spectacular full-dome capabilities, The Dome offers an entirely new sensory experience in the Caryl D. Philips Space Theater at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.
In addition to crystal clear images to explore the night sky, The Dome also offers stunning full-dome movie presentations that are perfect for entertaining visitors from 2 – 102. Incorporating the latest technology, The Dome will also host awe-inspiring 3D movies that bring objects close enough to (almost!) touch.
Evening of Astronomy programs consist of a free presentation that begins at 7:00 p.m., as well as live observing that continues throughout the evening in the Apollo Observatory (weather permitting).
Upcoming Evening of Astronomy Topics:
February 15: Unlocking the Secrets of Mercury
Mercury, closest planet to the Sun, will linger in the evening sky the longest after sunset for 2013 on Saturday, February 16. Be amazed at the planet’s discoveries made with NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury.
March 15: Globe At Night
Images of the Earth from space show a vast amount of night lighting escaping into space. Learn how proper lighting can increase visibility, decrease energy costs, and how to participate in the worldwide program, Globe at Night.
April 19: Exploring Exoplanets
Discover how planets have been detective in orbit around other starts of our Milky Way Galaxy
May 17: A Cluster of Planets
Take a closer look at our solar system’s planets and understand why Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter will appear clustered together shortly after sunset May 25th – 27th.
June 21: The Life Cycle of Stars
On this summer solstice we will examine our star, the Sun, and how it and other stars change over time.
July 19: The Perseids Peak Soon
Let’s consider the annual meteor showers, why they occur and which comets are associated with each one such as the Perseid Meteor Shower occurring in mid-August. Learn which comets have had historical significance and what is the original source of comets.
August 16: Venus, Mars, the Moon, and a Star Cluster to Observe
Take home starmaps indicating where to view with binoculars in the evening of September 8th Venus alongside the Moon with star Spica and then the morning of September 9th Mars passing in front of the open star cluster, M44, known as the Beehive or Praesepe.
September 20: Moon Facts
In the light of the waning gibbous Moon, investigate moon phases, eclipses, tides, and how to participate in International Observe the Moon Night October 12, 2013.
November 15: Telescope Pointers
Take the opportunity to examine a variety of telescopes, ask questions, and gain a better understanding of what qualities to look for when considering a telescope purchase. Enter a free drawing for a Galileoscope 50-mm f/10 refractor kit.
December 20: Solstices and Equinoxes
Gain a better understanding of the cause of our seasons as the winter solstice arrives Saturday, December 21st. laxy.
What is Astronomy?
Astronomy is the study of objects in space, such as those that lie within our Solar System including the Sun, moon, planets, comets and asteroids. Ancient people were able to observe many of these objects with their naked eye. With the invention of the telescope astronomers were able to observe objects at much greater distances, eventually seeing outside our own Milky Way Galaxy.
In recent years we have gained an even greater understanding of our place in space utilizing the technology that allows us to view the universe in many different wavelengths. As more knowledge is gained new questions are posed.
Astronomy Programs at the Boonshoft Museum
The Astronomy Department has many opportunities to share information regarding the night sky and related astronomy discoveries and events with our visitors. We offer an expansive choice of astronomy programs and observing opportunities. We inform the public of upcoming astronomy events and answer individual questions by phone, email and onsite. We utilize the Caryl D. Philips Space Theater, the Apollo Observatory, the Junior Observatory, the Hall of the Universe, our portable planetarium, StarLab and our meteorite collection to offer an out-of-this-world experience for our visitors.
We offer daily astronomy and special effects shows in the Caryl D. Philips Space Theater where our visitors can gain a better understanding of the night sky and stroll through the cosmos or venture through a black hole. In addition to daily astronomy programming in the Space Theater there are many opportunities for our guests to be entertained with a family laser show in which music is set to laser lights and special digital effects from our Digistar II planetarium projector or with a virtual reality experience riding amusement park rides.
Every clear Friday evening the Apollo Observatory and/or the Junior Observatory is open free to the public. Looking through one of our many telescopes you many feel as though you can reach out and touch the craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn, a glorious nebula, or the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy located several million light years away.
What is The Dome?
Experience the latest in digital Planetarium technology in the Caryl D. Philips Space Theater! The Dome offers three types of shows each day, including traditional planetarium shows, full-dome specialty films, and IMAX-style 3D films.
Planetarium Shows: Live, interactive shows presented by the Boonshoft Museum's Astronomy Department take visitors on a tour through the night sky, featuring stunningly bright stars and images of the planets and moons of our Solar System, offering a glimpse of what lies "out there."
Full-Dome Films: These family-friendly educational films bring the Planetarium to full-color life with images of Earth, space, and even the distant past! Be transported to the darkest reaches of space or discover the wonders of the ancient world in The Dome.
3D: The next generation of 3D, this state-of-the-art system utilizes LCD shutter lens technology that brings images close enough to - almost! - touch. The Dome incorporates “Active Stereo” technology, requiring high-end 3D glasses with LCD shutters that blank one eye at a time, with refresh rates up to 120 Hz. Note that glasses will be collected at the end of each show to be sanitized for future visitors. 3D shows are recommended for children six and older.
The Hall of the Universe
As visitors walk through the Hall of the Universe, background galactic music and lighting provide an outer space ambiance. Wander past the beautiful photographs of the planets and other solar system bodies that line the walls of the hall and touch an actual object from outer space, a 16 pound meteorite on display.
Part of the Hall of the Universe is the Sun Room, a permanent exhibit where visitors can explore the star that provides the energy for life on Earth! Opened in 2011, the Sun Room adds to the out-of-this-world astronomy experience at the Museum. Guests can take a virtual trip to the center of our Solar System and learn how our Sun works. View an image of the Sun at a striking lighted globe, and track the Sun across the sky each day through the Heliostat mounted on the roof of the Museum.
This project was supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
StarLab: Our Portable Planetarium
When a visit to the Museum is not possible we have a portable planetarium, StarLab, that can bring the night sky to you. The StarLab can demonstrate what would be seen in the night sky or help to present astronomically related concepts.
For additional information about the Astronomy Department or to schedule a StarLab or Planetarium program, please contact (937) 275-7431 ext. 122 or email
Our Astronomy Collection
The Astronomy Department meteorite collection consists of nearly 200 specimens that give us a better understanding of the formation of our solar system. Most of the items in our collection were originally pieces of asteroids, including four specimens that fell in Ohio. The collection also includes several lunar specimens, as well as one from Mars.